The Instrumentation Center


pContributor: UToledo Instrumentation Center Staff and Chemistry Department, in loving memory of Dr. Giolando.

About the Display: The display includes

  • A Lego figurine of Doctor Phosphorus - Doctor Phosphorus is a villain in the DC Universe. Dr. Alex Sartorius became Dr. Phosphorus when a crack in a reactor caused millions of slivers of radioactive red-hot sand to enter his body. The silicon in the sand gained a proton from the radioactivity, causing it to turn into phosphorus. The supervillain seeks revnge for his fate from those he holds responsible, causing him to have many run-ins with Batman. 
  • Fertilizer - Phosphorus is one of the "big three"  NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) primary ingredients in commercial fertilizers. Although it is an important component, helping plants convert other nutrients into building blocks to grow, it can be damaging to the environment if applied at the wrong time. For example, if an excess of phosphorus is used, it may be washed away by the rain and find its way into waterways. Once in the waterways, this nonpoint source pollution causes eutrophication. Eutrophication is the reduction of oxygen in bodies of water, which in turn causes fish to suffocate. 
  • Phosphide Film and Solar Film - Both films in the display were developed in Dr. Giolando's lab at the University of Toledo. The phosphide film, donated by Dr. Ruwani Wasalathanthri, is used as an electrode to catalyze water splitting. It is  copper-cobalt-phosphide electroplated on a copper substrate. 
  • Matches - Matches are coated in red phosphorus which turns into white phosphorus when struck. The white phosphorus then reacts with the potassium chlorate in the match head to ignite.
  • Tea Set - Phosphorus is one of the components used to make fine china. 

Why is there Phosphorus in Urine?

According to WebMD, the kidneys filter out excess phosphate from the body, which is consumed from our food. Phosphate is an ion that contains phosphorus and is an essential mineral for bones, teeth, nerves and muscles. 


Back to the Periodic Table

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Symbol: P

Atomic Number: 15

Atomic Mass: 30.974 u

Electron Configuration: [Ne] 3s23p3 

Year Discovered: 1669

Discovered By: Hennig Brandt 

Last Updated: 6/27/22